St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Barn Again

    Got started on the south end of the 100 year old barn.  The sill is rotted, the studs rotted at the bottom, and the siding coming off. The insurance salesman said "Fix it if you want insurance."   

   Well, I wasn't as concerned about the insurance as I was about the responsibility of letting a barn fall down on my watch.  So, after studying it for months, thinking about it for months, and getting a load of lumber into the haymow -- jackpine we had sawed 25 years ago and used on our house at Pine Island (left over 2x8, 2x6 and 2x4 rough sawn) got started this morning.  

Cleared off the remains of the roof on the silo room below and put a treated 3/4 sheet of plywood across as a platform to stand on and cut out a door opening in the haymow to get to it as well as cleared out the south end of the barn haymow -- lots of old loose and broken bales so decent access to the barn. 

   The sills have to be replaced above the 1-foot deep cinder blocks.  The vertical studs have to be partially replaced and new ones nailed side of the old ones that are rotten.  They were above the silo door and silo chute and the moisture from 100 years of cows breathing out -- all going up the wall was not very good on the lumber!

Silo was made in two stages.  Originally a wood stave over pit, then blocks and later more blocks.  Between the silo and the barn is the silo room and above it was a wooden silo chute going to the top of the silo.  Moisture from the barn went into the silo room and up the chute, rotting the barn on that end. 

Doesn't look too good!

Cut a door opening along the end to get to the flat platform on top of the old silo room.  A place to stand. 

The blue cinder blocks are 1 foot deep and sound.  Dad and his brothers and the Fors "boys" cut out the original wood walls and put in the blocks in 1950 or 1951--doing a section at a time.  I remember 1/2 of one side of the barn open to the air, propped up on tamarack poles inserted with screw jacks to lift the haymow.  

Scott and I raised one beam holding the hay mow an inch up with our handyman jack and a 4x4 ash post.  This gives us room to tear out the rotten sill and insert a new treated one, that as Dad would have said, "should do me out."  Note the haymow floor joists are actually old logs from the original 1880s barn that was dismantled and used in the new barn.  Most houses and barns in our area were built in the 1914-1920 range when farmers got decent prices for their crops due to WWI. 

Looking up - the ends of the haymow floor boards are rotted off too.  This is the sill and joist above the door into the silo room--both need replacing.  

Looking into the barn from the silo room.  The pipes are the vacuum line and the round item is the vacuum gauge.  We ran at 15 lbs vacuum as I remember. 

Log joists strengthened by a barn swallow nest

Stored away in the junk in the barn is the Honda 55 scrambler that was so fond of melting a hole in the piston if run for very far.  Had to carry chewing gum to patch it on the road.
Silo from the inside.  Dad and uncle Ralph laid the first layer above the pit shortly after he bought the farm in 1941.  The second addition was a few years later.   
The silo pit was about 7 feet deep originally.  Every fall we put a hose and pump into the pit and pumped out the water from summer to get ready for the silo filling crew.  Grandpa would come with his Rumely Oil Pull, carefully level the filler next to the silo, Uncle Chan would climb the silo and we would pull up the metal pipes and rope them solid.  Then careful backing into the belt to get everything lined up and the Rumely started running for the day as the neighbors brought their hay racks and pitched corn bundles onto the loads and pulled into the filler where it fed into the whirling blades and was blown into the silo.  My first job was to level and tromp the silage inside the silo as it game in.  

In the pit, the acid silages and gradually eaten away the cement.  Last filled in about 1986, nature is taking over the pit earthen floor.  

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Stormy Days

Margo's father has adjusted well to the assisted care facility and Margo returned to Pine Island a few weeks ago with severe leg pains that turned out to be from a cyst and disk pressing on the spinal cord from a back problem.  She has had back problems for many years, but probably did something to aggravate it helping with her father and was left barely able to walk with so much pain in the leg.   She spent some time at Mayo and got a steroid shot in the back and things are calming down again and she is mobile and getting back to snow-shovel ready again.  I think we will see her at Cushing by the weekend.  The house will have to go from bachelor style--mostly meaning I have every table covered with computer stuff in various stages of repair or disrepair.  

I spent several days in Pine Island too, and while there tried to fix a rear tire on the WD Allis Chalmers that was shot.  Got some used replacement tires and and a new tube and put it together twice, but still leaks.  It appears that the valve stem was not properly put into the new tube and even with a patch it is still leaking--where the round stem is vulcanized into the tube.  

   Back to Cushing where I arrived just in time for a storm to come through last night and knock over some trees and make a small mess of the yard and gardens.    I think Margo will be up to Cushing for a couple of weeks after having been away since April with her Dad. She will see the pretty yard flowers after the storm flattened them rather than standing upright!

An old large Macintosh apple tree came down.  Rotten at the core. 

A pond where no pond existed in the neighbors corn field.  Lots of corn and hay flattened

Next to Jensen's garage in Cushing

West of Cushing two huge trees down in a yard 

Storm clouds gathering can be pretty, but destructive when they arrive. 

The garden did not fare well

Some home-sawn jackpine to fix the barn wall on the south and the old rotten tractor tire to be used for a fire ring (in a brush pile maybe).  
The south end of the 100 year old barn is pushing out.  Needs some work before the insurance man will insure it this year.  I think it is highly cosmetic and some structural work.  Will pull in the studs, nail new ones next to them and then try to nail the siding back in place (or maybe just cover the whole thing with red tin!)  Note the blue cinder blocks -- I remember in 1950 or 51 when Dad had the wood bottom of the barn removed and the blocks put in new.  He, his brothers and the Fors carpenter crew did the work a section at a time.

Yesterday with the Macintosh apple tree the big spreading one on the left.  Below--this morning. 

Gave a tour to some Polk County Endeavor's folks yesterday at the Cushing Museum.  We all had a great time.  

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Tires, Thistles, Tomatoes and Thighs

My Super C Farmall wheel rim that rusted out in spots is getting back in shape.  After scaling brushing and sanding rust, I put a rust treatment and then fiberglass screen and Bondo and painted it with Rustoleum primer so am getting within a day or two of putting it all together. 

the rusted area needs to be sanded and primed and then the whole wheel painted before reassembly.

The whole tire, tube and rim process has been slow but rather enjoyable.  Hope it works out!

While the paint is drying, I took a stroll around the garden -- and was struck by the diversity of wild plants (weeds) in an unmowed strip between bean field and garden.  The bees were enjoying it; gold finches after the thistle down and seed, and a chipmunk watched me carefully from a nearby pine. 

Margo had an MRI on her back and found two problems-- "a synovial cyst that is causing some narrowing of your spinal canal and protrudes into the L5 nerve root sleeve, the MRI also showed disc extrusion."  Both are pressing on a nerve that goes to the leg and causing so much pain that she barely is able to walk.  My Googling the conditions suggest that she may be have a shot in the back (cortisone?) to see if that will relieve the pain, and possibly a needle to try to drain the cyst.  They appear to be caused by some back vertebrae gradually breaking down. 
She doesn't have the appointment with that specialist until a week from this Friday.  In the meantime, she is sitting quietly with Scott helping out in Pine Island.  This getting older business is not so great!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Hints of Autumn?

Took a drive from farm to the cabin (2 miles) and on the way stopped to check out Brother Ev's deer hunting shack

High atop a hill in the edge of a field is Ev's hunting cabin.  I think it is about 40 years old or so.  He made it from home sawn lumber.  Every deer hunting season, after the first weekend, when hunting is slow, the boys migrate to the shack for some leisurely hunting.  
The view to the north across the valley
Some trees are turning--I think it was because of the several dry weeks -- not because fall is coming. 

The yellow transparent apples are almost ripe.  This apple tree, nearest the outhouse, seems to grow especially well!

The cattail swamp to the east.  When we were kids, this was a small pond that our cows used for drinking water.  Over the years of pasturing it, they gradually tromped the edges in and wallowed through it until now it is a very shallow cattail bog with no water in sight. 

The yellow transparent is a very early apple--just about ripe right now.  Makes good pies and apple crisps, then one day you go out there and the apples have all turned to mush over night.  Need to pick them early. Mom made apple sauce out of them in a good year (this is a good year for some apples).
Getting ready for the "old sale" at the Cushing Community Center this Saturday 8-noon at Cushing Fun Days.  Downstairs the Fire Department (51 years old) is having a pancake breakfast and upstairs we are having an open house in the museum (Sterling Eureka and Laketown Historical Society) and a sale of "old stuff."  
Since I have been cleaning out Mom's knick knacks and old dishes and so on, I am tubbing a bunch of stuff to take out and see if it is saleable or not.   As I go through the dishes, there are a few from what I remember as Mom's pine cone set; the gold rimmed white ones; several sets of plastic (Melmac?); some vintage Tupperware.  I almost put the last of the two stemmed ice-cream dishes in the sale, but I got to thinking about the enjoyment we got with them and back in the cupboard they went. 

About this time of year--in 1950 or thereabouts--Dad would drive the 38 Chev out to Cushing and get a 50 cent block of ice from Mike Laier (who had a wonderful sawdust filled ice shed behind the north bar -- near the Co-op).  We used the hammer and chisel to break it up and fill the hand crank ice cream freezer around the drum.  Marv used the dipper to scoop out two quarts of fresh cream from the milk cans sitting in the cold water tank; a few raw eggs, some sugar and if there were still some raspberries left, a handful of those went into the metal bucket with the dasher inside.  
Then an hour of cranking and salting the ice until it got stiff, 20 minutes more of impatient waiting to let it "ripen" and we had a wonderful treat.  Of course, with no freezer of our own yet, we had to eat it all before it melted.   No artificial ingredients, no worry about fat, sugar or diet, just pure pleasure!

That might be Marv and Ev and Byron, or maybe I have mixed up our photos with some others ;-)

Junque or Treasure ?

And many more boxes to go!